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D&D 5E House Rule to Make Upcasting More Attractive

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
We finally had our first live game of the year and a player upcast healing word at level 2, rolling just a 1 and 2 for a total of 5 hp of healing. In a prior battle, the same spell at level 1 healed 6 hp when he rolled a 4. He commented on what a let down upcasting was in 5E, so we discussed it and came up with an idea for a new house rule:

When you upcast a spell that heals or does damage (or affects any die roll for effect),
you add a maximum for the additional die results for each additional level.


Examples:
  • You upcast Healing Word to level 2. Instead of 2d4+Wis mod, you roll 1d4+4+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Sleep to level 3. Instead of 9d8, you roll 5d8+32.
  • You upcast Cure Wounds at level 4. Instead of 4d8+Wis mod, you roll 1d8+24+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Fireball to level 5. Instead of 10d6, you roll 8d6+12.

Certain spells, such as Command, which affect additional targets, in essence double, triple, etc. their effectiveness which each level (or so) added. So, this allows dice-based spells a better increase in effectiveness as well.

I think this is a decent idea, but as always am interested in any feedback. So, thoughts or suggestions?
 

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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Rolling dice for hit points (whether healing or leveling up or whatever) has long been one of the most disappointment-prone areas of D&D. I've just used max hit points for leveling up and healing magic for years as a result. It makes PCs a bit tougher but that's fine with me and has been fine with my groups too.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I think its a fine houserule.

The one I use for healing myself is I also double the ability mod.

Cure Wounds: 1d8 + mod
2nd level: 2d8 + 2x mod
3rd level: 3d8 + 3x mod

etc
 

FarBeyondC

Explorer
We finally had our first live game of the year and a player upcast healing word at level 2, rolling just a 1 and 2 for a total of 5 hp of healing. In a prior battle, the same spell at level 1 healed 6 hp when he rolled a 4. He commented on what a let down upcasting was in 5E, so we discussed it and came up with an idea for a new house rule:

When you upcast a spell that heals or does damage (or affects any die roll for effect),
you add a maximum for the additional die results for each additional level.


Examples:
  • You upcast Healing Word to level 2. Instead of 2d4+Wis mod, you roll 1d4+4+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Sleep to level 3. Instead of 9d8, you roll 5d8+32.
  • You upcast Cure Wounds at level 4. Instead of 4d8+Wis mod, you roll 1d8+24+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Fireball to level 5. Instead of 10d6, you roll 8d6+12.

Certain spells, such as Command, which affect additional targets, in essence double, triple, etc. their effectiveness which each level (or so) added. So, this allows dice-based spells a better increase in effectiveness as well.

I think this is a decent idea, but as always am interested in any feedback. So, thoughts or suggestions?
I mean, I personally hate the rule (I'd be more willing to let people take the average for a given spell's die roll than this) and the non-problem I think it's meant to solve, but it's a perfectly functional houserule that doesn't have a particularly egregious downside.

Well, certain upcast spells always doing better than average (Healing Word and Cure Wounds from 2nd level, Mass Healing Word and Sleep from 4th level) may be a problem.
 

dave2008

Legend
I like it (I think), we handle crits in similar fashion.

However, it will have the effect of making upcasting more attractive than casting a higher level spell. I mean, why cast finger of death (61 damage avg to on target) when a 7th lvl fireball now causes 60 avg damage to everyone in the area?
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I like it (I think), we handle crits in similar fashion.

However, it will have the effect of making upcasting more attractive than casting a higher level spell. I mean, why cast finger of death (61 damage avg to on target) when a 7th lvl fireball now causes 60 avg damage to everyone in the area?
A 7th-level fireball would not do an average of 60 damage, it would be 52 (nearly 10 points less than the 61.5 average of finger of death).

A fireball is normally 28 average (8d6), adding +6 per upcast level (+24 for upcasting 4 levels) would be 52 damage.

Although the overall damage due to multiple targets could certainly be greater with an upcast fireball using this house rule, the choice between the two spells could be due to:

fire vs. necrotic (favoring one resistance vs. another depending on the target)
a DEX save vs. a CON save
avoiding friendly-fire damage
gaining an instant zombie ally if you kill the target, etc.

But, that is a big point of this rule, using your 7th-level slot to upcast would now be a good option. FWIW, without the house-rule, a 7th-level fireball (12d6) would average 42 (tempting), but compared to other 7th-level spells not quite as attractive as 52 obviously. 🤷‍♂️
 

I give my players these choices:" either roll or take the average on any number of dice."
What I see, is that many player roll half the dice and take the average on the other half.
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
Supporter
We finally had our first live game of the year and a player upcast healing word at level 2, rolling just a 1 and 2 for a total of 5 hp of healing. In a prior battle, the same spell at level 1 healed 6 hp when he rolled a 4. He commented on what a let down upcasting was in 5E, so we discussed it and came up with an idea for a new house rule:

When you upcast a spell that heals or does damage (or affects any die roll for effect),
you add a maximum for the additional die results for each additional level.


Examples:
  • You upcast Healing Word to level 2. Instead of 2d4+Wis mod, you roll 1d4+4+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Sleep to level 3. Instead of 9d8, you roll 5d8+32.
  • You upcast Cure Wounds at level 4. Instead of 4d8+Wis mod, you roll 1d8+24+Wis Mod.
  • You upcast Fireball to level 5. Instead of 10d6, you roll 8d6+12.

Certain spells, such as Command, which affect additional targets, in essence double, triple, etc. their effectiveness which each level (or so) added. So, this allows dice-based spells a better increase in effectiveness as well.

I think this is a decent idea, but as always am interested in any feedback. So, thoughts or suggestions?
I would like the rule were it the rounded up average of the extra dice. Max feels too strong to my taste.

So d4 + 3 + stat or d4 + 5 + stat etc
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I would like the rule were it the rounded up average of the extra dice. Max feels too strong to my taste.

So d4 + 3 + stat or d4 + 5 + stat etc
While it protects some from rolling really low, it doesn't offer enough of a jump IMO to make upcasting attractive.

IME, upcasting hardly EVER happens, so this would make it more attractive. Too strong to your taste is fine, of course, so thanks for your feedback.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I give my players these choices:" either roll or take the average on any number of dice."
What I see, is that many player roll half the dice and take the average on the other half.
When upcasting or all the time?

Like @clearstream's suggestion--it protects against a low result, but don't make upcasting really much more appealing IMO. shrug
 

dave2008

Legend
A 7th-level fireball would not do an average of 60 damage, it would be 52 (nearly 10 points less than the 61.5 average of finger of death).

A fireball is normally 28 average (8d6), adding +6 per upcast level (+24 for upcasting 4 levels) would be 52 damage.
OK. I misunderstood. I thought you were saying max the base damage so a 7th lvl fireball would be 48 (8x6) + 14 (4d6) = 62

Not as bad as I thought, but it is still something to consider. As assumed 104 damage with your fireball is a lot more than 61.5 with finger of death. The better option is to look at two similar spells.

Delayed blast fireball: avg damage 42
your fireball at 7th: avg. damage 52.

You would have to hold a delayed blast fireball for 3 turns to get the same effect of standard fireball at 7th.

I'm not saying it is a deal breaker, just that it is an issue.
 

dave2008

Legend
But, that is a big point of this rule, using your 7th-level slot to upcast would now be a good option. FWIW, without the house-rule, a 7th-level fireball (12d6) would average 42 (tempting), but compared to other 7th-level spells not quite as attractive as 52 obviously. 🤷‍♂️
Oops, just finished reading where you covered my point. My worry is that now upcasting will be the only option for these type of spells. Now you've gone the opposite direction
 

When upcasting or all the time?

Like @clearstream's suggestion--it protects against a low result, but don't make upcasting really much more appealing IMO. shrug
All the time. Up casting or not. Only hit rolls must actually be ... rolled.
This speed up play in many ways as more and more of my players are now using average damage. Even to the point that unless a players tells me in advance that he/she is going to roll, I know their average damage by heart and scrape off the damage they should do immediately.

What I have notice, is also the fact that the players tend to roll on criticals on the hope of a big number, or when a foe is close to dying and again, hope for a big enough number to down the foe faster.

Again, when faced with many dice, a lot are simply rolling half the dice and take the average for the rest.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Oops, just finished reading where you covered my point. My worry is that now upcasting will be the only option for these type of spells. Now you've gone the opposite direction

I'll have to look at the numbers today. Maybe it will be too much of a shift in the other direction? :unsure:

Anyway, let's compare to DBF. IME even at higher levels, no one uses DBF because it is underwhelming for a 7th level spell. BDF base damage (12d6) is the same as an upcast Fireball (8d6+4d6)--which is disappointing IMO. Sure, you "hold" it for extra damage, but it is never worth it IME.

All the time. Up casting or not. Only hit rolls must actually be ... rolled.
This speed up play in many ways as more and more of my players are now using average damage. Even to the point that unless a players tells me in advance that he/she is going to roll, I know their average damage by heart and scrape off the damage they should do immediately.

What I have notice, is also the fact that the players tend to roll on criticals on the hope of a big number, or when a foe is close to dying and again, hope for a big enough number to down the foe faster.

Again, when faced with many dice, a lot are simply rolling half the dice and take the average for the rest.

We've done average damage (for the whole spell) as an option for a while now (it is much faster! :) ), but I sort of like the idea of being able to split them (roll some, average some).
 
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6ENow!

The Game Is Over
FWIW, compare Cure Wounds as 6th-level slot (d8+40+WIS mod) vs. Heal (70 hp, plus blindness, deafness, & disease curing). Obviously, Heal is still a much better option than upcasting Cure Wounds upcasted. 🤷‍♂️

I think certain spells, such as BDF, are underwhelming, is more the issue than the house-rule when making these comparisons.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'll have to look at the numbers today. Maybe it will be too much of a shift in the other direction? :unsure:

Anyway, let's compare to DBF. IME even at higher levels, no one uses DBF because it is underwhelming for a 7th level spell. BDF base damage (12d6) is the same as an upcast Fireball (8d6+4d6)--which is disappointing IMO. Sure, you "hold" it for extra damage, but it is never worth it IME.
I guess I disagree. 12d6 is what a 7th level AoE spell is supposed to do. So that fact that upcasting fireball does the same makes sense to me. That would be upcasting working as intended, It seems your real issue is the fickle nature of dice. Why not use multiples. So 12d6 becomes 12x6. A lot higher odds of the extremes, but if low rolls are a fear, you could also say you get to any roll of 1 becomes a 2 or something.

However, I have thought of a 2nd issue. What are you doing to compensate martials for the boost in damage / effect casters are getting? the fact that a 7th level spell goes from 42 to 52 avg damage (x2 really) is quite a bost. Will you max damage a fighters first attack or something?
 

This house rule would definitely make upcasting more attractive!

I see a lot of upcasting in both the game I play in and the game I run, so it wouldn't be too necessary for me. But one way to encourage upcasting may be to grant a bonus outside of damage. This may be silly and way too complicated, but it could be something like:

Abjuration: +1 AC/ level difference until start of next turn.
Evocation: next damage spell gets +1 / level difference elemental damage
Divination: +1 / level difference to Perception checks until the start of your next turn

Etc.

Just another idea!
 

aco175

Legend
I find that my players up-cast mostly healing with few other spells used that way. Not sure if others find this as well.

What about people that specialize in one school. Would a life cleric be able to cast healing spells better than normal clerics, or a fire mage be able to cast fireball for more damage? I know that they have some in their base rules for the class, but adding what the OP was talking about may boost the feel of certain types of classes. It may also just make those classes you favor though. i.e., if there are no mid-level acid spells or low-level lightning spells- there will be nobody specializing in that.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
I guess I disagree. 12d6 is what a 7th level AoE spell is supposed to do. So that fact that upcasting fireball does the same makes sense to me. That would be upcasting working as intended, It seems your real issue is the fickle nature of dice. Why not use multiples. So 12d6 becomes 12x6. A lot higher odds of the extremes, but if low rolls are a fear, you could also say you get to any roll of 1 becomes a 2 or something.
That's fine. I have no issues with disagreement. :)

However, I have thought of a 2nd issue. What are you doing to compensate martials for the boost in damage / effect casters are getting? the fact that a 7th level spell goes from 42 to 52 avg damage (x2 really) is quite a bost. Will you max damage a fighters first attack or something?
Nothing, they aren't sacrificing anything (a more powerful slot) to augment something weaker (a lower level spell).

I suppose the only equivalent would be for a fighter with extra attack to foregoing his addition attack to automatically deal base die damage. Something like instead of getting d8+4 making two attacks, you make one attack and if it hits you do d8+8+4. shrug
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Healing Word is intentionally a weaker heal, because of all the advantages it has - bonus action to cast and range. Basing a generalized decision on it is misleading. If they want to heal more, pick Cure Wounds. It is near twice as much average per die and upcasts just fine.

It's like saying cantrip scaling is too weak when the only cantrip you cast is Vicious Mockery.
 

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